Jeff Zucker

Conference has emerged as a networking and partying hub for reality TV mavens

Movers and shakers from the world of unscripted television will converge in Washington, D.C. today for the start of the 16th annual RealScreen Summit, a gathering that has become a must-attend networking and dealmaking hub for buyers and sellers.

The confab, which runs through Wednesday at the Washington Hilton, is equal parts business forum and social event. Parties thrown by producers and networks have brought back memories of the go-go years of NATPE – which runs in direct competition with RealScreen this year in Miami.

RealScreen carved its niche as a haven for unscripted mavens because it was initially designed as a conference to help industry pros gain a better understanding of the growth of reality shows, international formats and now digital content extensions. As the unscripted world has grown in prominence, so has RealScreen.

The 2014 edition is expected to draw more than 2,500 attendees ranging from producers and other creatives to network execs to agents. Beyond the parties, attendees say that genuine business gets done at the summit, with some agents noting they have dozens of meetings scheduled within RealScreen’s 72-hour frame.

The first full day of RealScreen begins Monday with a keynote from CNN topper Jeff Zucker (pictured), moderated by CNN correspondent and “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter.

Thom Beers, veteran producer and now head of FremantleMedia North America, “Real World” producer Jon Murray and  “Kitchen Nightmares’ ” Arthur Smith are  among the notables hosting mentoring sessions.

The schedule is also dotted with “30 Minutes with …” sessions featuring key programming and development execs from more than two dozen cablers.

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